How the Queen was inspired by her father George VI throughout her reign


The Queen was known for her strength, stoicism and her sense of duty – having looked to her father King George VI for inspiration throughout her 70-year reign.

Her Majesty, who was the longest reigning monarch in British history, heralded for her unparalleled devotion to royal duty during more than seven decades on the throne, died aged 96 in Balmoral last Thursday. 

Born in Mayfair on April 21, 1926, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York was granddaughter of the King, third in line to the throne and unlikely ever to ever be crowned, which afforded ‘Lilibet’, a nickname given by her closest family members, and her sister Margaret, four years her junior, a sheltered if privileged upbringing.

But in 1936, when she was just 10, her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, making her father King and changing her destiny forever. 

The Queen acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952, thrust on the rather shy and tentative 25-year-old while on a royal tour of Kenya with her beloved husband and soul mate Prince Philip following the death of her father George VI, who was her idol. 

Those who knew the Queen as a child described her a serious and loyal daddy’s girl who idolised her father, who at the time of her birth had no desire to be King George VI or make his beloved eldest daughter his heir to the throne. 

It was this close relationship to George VI which shaped much of her rule – with the Queen even saying: ‘I shall always work, as my father did throughout his reign, to advance the happiness and prosperity of my peoples’ – and one which she continued to pay tribute to in her own ways. 

The Queen, who died last Thursday in Balmoral, was known for her strength, stoicism and her sense of duty – having looked to her father King George VI (pictured together in 1946) for inspiration throughout her 70-year reign

Born in Mayfair on April 21, 1926, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York (pictured right with her father and sister) was granddaughter of the King, third in line to the throne and unlikely ever to ever be crowned, which afforded 'Lilibet', a nickname given by her closest family members, and her sister Margaret, four years her junior, a sheltered if privileged upbringing

Born in Mayfair on April 21, 1926, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York (pictured right with her father and sister) was granddaughter of the King, third in line to the throne and unlikely ever to ever be crowned, which afforded ‘Lilibet’, a nickname given by her closest family members, and her sister Margaret, four years her junior, a sheltered if privileged upbringing

In 1936, when she was just 10, her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, making her father King (pictured with his family on his coronation day) and changing her destiny forever

In 1936, when she was just 10, her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, making her father King (pictured with his family on his coronation day) and changing her destiny forever

Baby Elizabeth, with her blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, entered the world at 2.40am on April 26 1926 in a Mayfair townhouse to her proud parents Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Within a decade the Yorks would be Britain’s most reluctant king and queen after the abdication of Edward VIII. 

The Queen’s early life was blissful, the family – her parents then the Duke and Duchess of York – split their time between 145 Piccadilly – a large home in Hyde Park – and their country home Royal Lodge, Windsor, now the official residence of Prince Andrew. 

Elizabeth was said to be her father’s ‘pride’, while Margaret his ‘joy,’ When realising his daughter would be Queen, the King started to prepare her for her role as monarch. 

With this in mind, he reportedly asked his eldest child to write an account of his coronation, so that she would perhaps feel more prepared for her own, reported Good Housekeeping.

Aged just 11, the then Princess Elizabeth penned a note to her parents to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI, which was addressed ‘to mamma and papa’ from ‘Lilibet by herself’.

In Feburary 1952, Princess Elizabeth, then aged 25, was in Kenya with her husband of five years Prince Philip. Her father King George VI had been too ill with lung cancer to travel and so the princess was sent on his behalf.

The Queen acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952, thrust on the rather shy and tentative 25-year-old while on a royal tour of Kenya with her beloved husband and soul mate Prince Philip following the death of her father George VI (pictured together in 1947), who was her idol

The Queen acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952, thrust on the rather shy and tentative 25-year-old while on a royal tour of Kenya with her beloved husband and soul mate Prince Philip following the death of her father George VI (pictured together in 1947), who was her idol

Elizabeth's early life was blissful, the family split their time between 145 Piccadilly - a large home in Hyde Park - and their country home Royal Lodge, Windsor, now the official residence of Prince Andrew. She is pictured as a baby with her parents - then known as the Duke and Duchess of York and later the King and Queen consort

Born in Mayfair on April 21, 1926, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York was granddaughter of the King, third in line to the throne and unlikely ever to ever be crowned. Pictured on October 9, 1926 when she was almost six months old

Elizabeth’s early life was blissful, the family split their time between 145 Piccadilly – a large home in Hyde Park – and their country home Royal Lodge, Windsor, now the official residence of Prince Andrew (Pictured right, on October 9, 1926 when she was almost six months old, and left, as a baby with her parents – then known as the Duke and Duchess of York and later the King and Queen consort)

Those who knew the Queen as a child described a serious and loyal daddy's girl who idolised her father, who at the time of her birth had no desire to be King George VI or make his beloved eldest daughter his heir to the throne

Those who knew the Queen as a child described a serious and loyal daddy’s girl who idolised her father, who at the time of her birth had no desire to be King George VI or make his beloved eldest daughter his heir to the throne

The couple had been relaxing at the now-famous Treetops Hotel, a game-viewing lodge in Kenya, and it was there in her sleep that she became Queen as her father passed away.

The official announcement of the King’s death was made from Sandringham on the morning of 6 February 1952 and the BBC broadcast the news that he had died in his sleep that night.

A fellow guest, British hunter Jim Corbett, wrote in the Treetops guest book: ‘For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a Princess and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience she climbed down from the tree next day a Queen.’

The news itself took time to reach Elizabeth and she was not informed until later when her private secretary, Martin Charteris was approached by a journalist for comment on the news, which had now broken worldwide.

The Queen took the news with what has since become her characteristic sense of duty. Her secretary later Martin Charteris recalled: ‘She was sitting erect, fully accepting her destiny. I asked her what name she would take. “My own, of course”.’

Queen Elizabeth apologised to her hosts for cancelling the rest of the tour and flew back to London the next day.

On February 8, she addressed the Accession Council at St James’s Palace, saying: ‘By the sudden death of my dear father I am called to assume the duties and responsibilities of sovereignty.

George VI; King of the United Kingdom, as Duke of York together with Elizabeth (the Duchess of York) and Princess Elizabeth later Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret

George VI; King of the United Kingdom, as Duke of York together with Elizabeth (the Duchess of York) and Princess Elizabeth later Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret

King George VI with the Queen Mother (then Queen Elizabeth) and his daughters Princess Margaret, left, and Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II), on Coronation Day, 1937

King George VI with the Queen Mother (then Queen Elizabeth) and his daughters Princess Margaret, left, and Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II), on Coronation Day, 1937

‘My heart is too full for me to say more to you today than I shall always work, as my father did throughout his reign, to advance the happiness and prosperity of my peoples, spread as they are all the world over.’

Although the King’s death shocked the nation – he was only 56 and it had been thought his condition was improving – there was also a lot of excitement about Elizabeth’s accession to the throne.

The Queen’s close friend Lady Glenconner has said Her Majesty’s father King George set a ‘wonderful example’ by putting duty first. 

She shared her memories of the monarch as a young woman ahead of her Platinum Jubilee. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lady Glenconner said the Queen would likely ‘look back very sadly’ on the day as it also marked the death of her father, George VI.

She described the ‘moving’ moment she watched Elizabeth on television returning from Africa with the knowledge she was to become Queen. 

‘It’s so moving, standing at the top of the stairs in her black coat. And suddenly, somebody that we’d known, I’d known, since she was a child, was Queen.

‘She was a very slight figure and she was very young but I felt that she had, from a very young age really, she knew she was going to be Queen. I think her father was a wonderful example to her because he put his every duty first.’ 

Animals were a key part of the Queen's early life - she kept corgis until her death. The Royal family are seen the Royal Lodge in Windsor. (From right to left) Queen Elizabeth (1900 - 2002), Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002), Princess Elizabeth and King George VI (1895 - 1952) with the family dogs Ching

Animals were a key part of the Queen’s early life – she kept corgis until her death. The Royal family are seen the Royal Lodge in Windsor. (From right to left) Queen Elizabeth (1900 – 2002), Princess Margaret (1930 – 2002), Princess Elizabeth and King George VI (1895 – 1952) with the family dogs Ching

The royal family at Buckingham Palace, May 1942. From left to right, Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), Princess Margaret and King George. The Queen is aged 16

The royal family at Buckingham Palace, May 1942. From left to right, Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), Princess Margaret and King George. The Queen is aged 16

In February, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, paid tribute to the Queen’s duty and service.

She was, he said, ‘a constant reminder that we are never ruled by a mere idea’, in contrast to the ‘push and pull of conflicting opinion’ and ‘the divided tribal loyalties of our age’.

‘No fanfare marked Accession Day for the Queen who was, that morning, in the foothills of Mount Kenya,’ the Dean said. ‘There was no job description and no strategy to deliver. Shaped and informed by the father she succeeded, she began what she has continued ever since, a life of duty and service.

‘A life, her life at the heart of nation and Commonwealth – relationship, constancy and principle in the churn of world affairs.’

Earlier this year, the Queen kept her father close to her heart when celebrating her historic milestone of 70 years on the throne; she was pictured with her papers of state on a table in front of her and poignantly nearby was an image of the late King.

In a message released to mark her Platinum Jubilee the Queen said: ‘It is a day that, even after 70 years, I still remember as much for the death of my father, King George VI, as for the start of my reign.

‘As we mark this anniversary, it gives me pleasure to renew to you the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service.’

Earlier this year, the Queen kept her father close to her heart when celebrating her historic milestone of 70 years on the throne (pictured). She was pictured with her papers of state on a table in front of her and poignantly nearby was an image of her father

Earlier this year, the Queen kept her father close to her heart when celebrating her historic milestone of 70 years on the throne (pictured). She was pictured with her papers of state on a table in front of her and poignantly nearby was an image of her father

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk